As we hit the bye rounds in the AFL season, The Inner Sanctum will be conducting our mid-season reviews of all 18 clubs and assessing the first half of the season and what fortunes may lie ahead.
Up next, The GWS Giants.
For Greater Western Sydney it has been a tumultuous first half of 2022. With coach Leon Cameron stepping down and having key players out with injury, there seems to be no light at the end of this Giant tunnel. Leading into bye week GWS has only three wins for the season. Their lowest since their early years in the competition.
Can interim coach Mark McVeigh reignite the 2019 grand final form in the side?
In round ten we finally saw some improvement for the Giants with coach McVeigh stepping up to the plate while the side searches for their permanent replacement for Leon Cameron.
With Harry Himmelberg spending more time in defense and Harry Perryman moving into the midfield, could this be the special formula the Giants were looking for?
The Giants have had the most tackles (62.1 on average) per game of any team in the competition so far and ranked second for most hit-outs (43 on average) which shows there is some fight left in this side.
Despite a strengthening win against the Eagles in round ten, the Giants have not performed so far this season.
The injury list for the Western-Sydney team is looking grim, with Phil Davis, a key defender out again with a hamstring injury sustained in round two, Jacob Hopper out with a knee injury, and Finn Callaghan out with a shoulder injury. Commentators have proposed the Giants won’t survive the season without Davis – calling it, ‘no Phil, no finals.’
But, notwithstanding their injury list, GWS saw only two wins in the first six games in 2021 and made it to the finals, so it may not be wise to count them out just yet.
The promising 21-year-old, Tom Green has been in outstanding form both pre-season and during rounds one to eleven.
Despite being a highlight debutant for the Giants in 2021, Green has truly found his home at the Giants this year – albeit competing in an already star-studded midfield.
With a career-high average of 6.6 clearances and 26 disposals per game on average and ranking fourth in the competition for contested possessions, this young Giant has mega-potential and knows his way around the ball at the elite level.
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Who needs to lift?:
One of the biggest questions asked of GWS pre-season was, can co-captain Stephen Coniglio re-establish himself in 2022? As former sole skipper and now co-captain and a player that has been described in the past as a fantasy favourite, Cogs has yet to reinvigorate his game in 2022.
Coniglio has only averaged 22 disposals each week leaving the corridor open for Toby Greene and Josh Kelly to step up to the role of co-captains.
However, big question marks still loom over the heads of this mid-field trio with Greene only averaging 13 touches each week. Hopefully, this leadership triangle can show more promise in the second half of the season.
Best and fairest contenders:
After being robbed of the 2021 Rising Star Award, Tom Green has put in the work to prove himself a worthy contender for the Kevin Sheedy Medal come seasons end.
Green sits alongside Kelly for the team’s top contenders in the best and fairest count.
Expectations for the second half of the year:
The preseason expectations for the Giants were high. There have been some improvements made since last season, although it has been lacklustre up until this point.
Despite the departure of Leon Cameron, the appearance of former Essendon coach, James Hird, and now the assistance of Dean Solomon, under the tutelage of McVeigh, there will hopefully be a breath of fresh air with a change in the team’s leadership.
Under the new regime, some noticeable improvements can already be seen. GWS will not see a top-eight team until five rounds after the bye, meaning they may have a chance at a few more wins yet.